mural art

During the first wave of the pandemic, several artists — largely working separately as they painted images onto plywood — joined forces to form the Soho Renaissance Factory. A diverse selection of these original works were salvaged and are on view through Tuesday, June 28 at ChaShaMa in Union Square. The exhibition, Beautiful Barriers: Street Art Beyond Walls, also features varied customized products including apparel, accessories, and skateboards in partnership with CocoRedoux. And joining the members of the Soho Renaissance Factory are guest artists EyeanticOPTIMONYCVanessa Kreytak, and 0H10M1ke.

The image pictured above was fashioned by the indigenous American multidisciplinary artist, Konstance Patton. Several more images captured while visiting the exhibition earlier this month follow:

Contemporary painter Brendan T. McNally

Brooklyn-based African American self-taught artist Amir Diop

Brooklyn-based muralist Manuel Alejandro aka The Creator

NYC-born, Jersey City-based Sule

 The legendary OPTIMONYC, guest artist

Hand-painted apparel, a small sample

A Closing Reception will be held on June 28, 6-9pm. You can register here:

Note:

June 26, 2022 3:00pm-4:00pm
Moderated by T.K Mills, Editor-in-chief of UP Magazine
Featured artists: OPTIMONYC, Vanessa Kreytak, Eyeantic, Calicho, and Ohio Mike

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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The Second Annual Troutman Rock has once again brought some of  NYC’s most intriguing writers together for a riveting first-rate production in Ridgewood, Queens. The image pictured above features the skills and visions of  FCEE, Nic1 and Curve. Several more murals follow:

French artist Seb Gorey, Homage, In Memory Of Kings

The legendary Greg Lamarche aka Sp.One

Queens-based style master Carlo Nieva aka Diego 127

The ever-ingenious Queens-based Chip Love aka Whisper

The amazingly skilled veteran graffiti writer Strider

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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When East Tremont resident Kay Love was offered the opportunity to paint a huge wall outside the nearby Colombian restaurant La Masa, she jumped at the opportunity. And what emerged was the first all- female artists’ production wall in the Bronx inspired by Colombia’s beauty — its divine indigenous women, history, culture and nature.

Among the talents featured in the mural segment pictured above are those of the legendary Japanese artist Shiro and self-described “Defender of the Bronx” artist Kay Love. Several more segments of the delightfully tantalizing mural follow — all fashioned by members of the  graffiti crew and collective  GW2 (Girls Write Too).

Colombia-born, East Harlem-based mixed media artist Gia, Secta 7 Collective member Neku, and graffiti writer & muralist Jai

Queens-based Asian American graffiti writer Ming and Shiro 

Stockholm-born, East Harlem-based graffiti writer and muralist Scratch

Bronx-based veteran graffiti writer Erotica

Special thanks to Scratch for sharing the backstory of the mural.

Photo credits:  1, 2 3 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 4 Kay Love

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While checking out several new murals at Underhill Walls in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn last week, I was delighted to discover a new open air gallery just a few blocks away.  Located at Washington Avenue and Clark Place and, also, curated by community resident and leader Jeff Beler, it hosts a captivating array of murals. A brief interview with Jeff Beler — its founder — follows:

What a wonderful addition go the neighborhood! What motivated you to launch this new project, Washington Walls?

I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 17 years and this spot had always been an eyesore.  It had originally been a garage, but it had been empty for years — with damaged panels in need of replacement.

How did you made this transformation happen — in terms of permissions?

I spoke to the contractor who contacted the owner of the property. The panels were replaced, and I was given the “Go ahead!”

When did it officially launch? And how did it go?

In February — right after Valentines Day. The entire community pitched in. Kids got involved. Everything went beautifully, and we all had fun!

These walls feature such a wide range of talents, styles and themes. I am familiar with many of the artists from Underhill Walls and elsewhere, yet several are new to me. How were you able to engage so many artists? And how did they find out about this project?

I put up a post on Instagram that I was seeking artists to paint, and the response was great.

What’s ahead?

A second edition of Washington Walls in September. We are also planning to launch shirts, tote bags, prints and stickers, along with a  book documenting the past seven years of Underhill Walls. And currently we are completing the newest set of murals at Underhill Walls featuring TV Nostalgia.

Murals:

  1. Uncutt Art
  2. Calicho Arevalo — with Jeff Beler on the left
  3. Paulie Nassar
  4. Jaima
  5. Outer Source
  6. Majo San
  7. Carnivorous Flora

Photos: Lois Stavsky

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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As the Bushwick Collective readies for its 11th Annual Block Party, a first-rate array of artists from near and far have been busy at work around Troutman and St Nicholas Avenues and its surrounding blocks. Pictured above is the Dutch artist David Louf aka Mr. June working on a small section of his new huge, hugely impressive mural. Several more images of newly-fashioned murals captured in the rain yesterday evening follow:

The distinctly skilled Italian artist Ligama, segment of huge stunning mural

 The wonderfully talented Milan-based Mr. Blob at work on a small segment of his huge tantalizing mural

The New York-based highly versatile visual artist Cody James

Pittsburg-based artist Ashley Hodder, close-up from wonderfully ravishing mural

And — on a lighter note — West Coast based aritst James Smith aka 1.4.4.0 completing his delightfully playful mural 

You can view all of the murals — including many by local artists — this Saturday, June 4 at the Bushwick Collective Annual Block Party, while enjoying performances by KRS ONE , STATIK SELEKTAH & FRIENDS, NEMS, TERMANOLOGY, POSITIVE K, & 30 other talents.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Adjacent to Old Jaffa’s bustling flea market and a short walk from its famed Clock Tower is its Greek Market, whose restaurant and shop doors serve as open-air canvases to an eclectic range of artists. The image featured above is the work of Tel Aviv-based fashion designer Athalia Lewartowski.  Several more images — captured on my recent far too brief visit to Tel Aviv — follow:

Also by Athalia Lewartowski

 

The masterly visual artist Elad Green

Tel Aviv born and based illustrator and graphic designer Tal Shetach

The ever-intriguing Soskee

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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To turn the page is to progress. It is often difficult, though, to turn a page. Each page  — as is each new day — is a fresh start that holds uncertainties. Eventually, the page must turn, no matter how long we take to reflect on it. And in Beirut, a city plagued by tragedy, poverty, economic crisis and corruption, we’ve learned how to turn the page and move forward.

The work pictured here, Turning the Page – قلبة الصفحة – is how three artists — Spaz, Kabrit and Exist — are moving forward in collaboration with the nonprofit organization Beitelbaraka to renovate Geitewe, a neighborhood that had been devastated by Beirut’s 2020 massive explosion.

Beirut-based Spaz

Lebanese artist Kabrit

Beirut-based graffiti artist and graphic designer Exist 

Exist, detail

Special thanks to Spaz for this post

Photos by Lebanese photographer Ihab Fayad 

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In celebration of Earth Day, National Geographic has partnered with ABC Owned Television Stations (OTV) and local artists in four major cities to fashion murals centered on four themes: wildlife, the Amazon, forests and oceans. All of the murals have been inspired by photos from National Geographic’s archive.

The image featured above was painted here in NYC by Brooklyn-based muralist and illustrator Steffi Lynn. Several more images of environmentally-conscious murals that have surfaced this month in collaboration with National Geographic follow:

A close-up from the NYC mural — fashioned by Steffi Lynn — located at 573 Johnson Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Philadelphia-based muralist and multimedia artist Eurhi Jones in partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia

Philadelphia-based Eurhi Jones with a close-up of her mural located at the Overbrook Environmental Education Center

The prolific Chicago-based self-taught street artist Sentrock at work

 A wide view of Sentrock and his mural located at ABC Chicago station’s building façade at 190 N State Street

 San Francisco-based illustrator and muralist Alice Lee in partnership with Paint the Void adds the final touches to her mural

Alice Lee with her completed mural, located at the intersection of Divisadero and Haight streets

Featured photos courtesy of National Geographic’s #NatGeoPlanetPossible project

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Bringing a touch of the 1920’s to First Street Green Art Park on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the prolific Brooklyn-based muralist Lexi Bella painted the image featured above last month on the occasion of FSG’s 2nd annual New Year New Murals & Clothing Drive.  What follows are several more faces fashioned by artists in NYC open spaces that I’ve encountered in recent meanderings around the city:

Moscow-born, NYC-based Urban Russian Doll in Manhattan’s Chinatown

Brooklyn-based self-taught Haitian American artist Alan Aine in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Bronx-native Andre Trenier in East Harlem with the 2021 Grandscale Mural Project

British-Israeli artist Solomon Souza in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Clarence Rich has been enriching the streets of Jersey City for over a decade. His impressive multi-faceted body of both street art and studio art ranges from curious characters to poignant portraits of family members to harmonious rhythmic pattern. I was delighted to feature his infectious aesthetic in the exhibition On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey that continues through this month at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey. An interview with the artist follows:

When and where did you first get up?

When I was 13 or 14. In 1997, I had my first real tag.

Had you any preferred surface back then?

Anything and everything around me.

Did anyone or anything in particular inspire you at the time?

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in Jersey City, I saw graffiti everywhere. Along with skateboarding and playing basketball, kids were always writing their names, tagging… It’s almost as though everybody’s older brother did graffiti – including mine. He’s two years older than I am, and he has been my partner since the beginning. I wrote LOSER as my tag. and he wrote DZEL, and together we started the AIDS (And It Don’t Stop; Alone In Deep Space) crew. And there were a few main people getting up in the neighborhood who were amazing. Among them was T.DEE. He was the founder of Undercover, the first graffiti magazine.

What about the name Loser? How did you come up with it?

We used to hang out in the parks and sit on the stoops. And one of our neighbors walked by and saw the graffiti and said, “What kinds of losers do this shit?”

Do any early graffiti-related memories come to mind?

There were just so many amazing things that changed my life. Meeting so many great artists who inspired me. That was a blessing. But here’s a story: We’re also rappers. Our original rap group was called AIDS — Adolescents In Dire Straits; Alone In Deep Space…We started tagging it on walls, but we never thought it would go anywhere. And so once we started our crew, then we had to switch our rap name to the “Animal Crackas.”

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I’d rather collaborate because my crew is so amazing. It’s now 20 years old.

Is there anyone, in particular, with whom you’d like to collaborate?

Rembrandt.

Have you any thoughts about the street art/graffiti divide?

I’m right in the middle. We’re bridging it. We’re not just graffiti writers. We are evolving. Many of us are transitioning from graffiti to street art to fine art. And we do all three. Some of the most amazing writers are also fine artists.

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries and museums?

I’m so happy! I’ve put together amazing shows in galleries for these past ten years. But to hang in a museum? Even that word! It’s huge for an artist.

What about the corporate world? How do you feel about street artists and writers collaborating with corporations?

Let’s get their money. I got this two-year old. I have to make money, and I don’t want to always have a day job working with fire alarms. I want to be an artist who paints whatever it is I want to paint whenever I want to paint it.

How do you feel about the role of social media in this scene?

I’m just trying to ride the wave. If you’re not on it, you’re missing a big audience.

Have you a formal art education?

Yes. My mom encouraged me to get one. I studied Fine and Commercial Arts at DuCret School of the Arts in Plainfield, NJ. It was the best thing I ever did in my life. It helped me find out who I was. But it’s also in my blood. My grandparents worked as animators for Terry Tunes, and my grandfather was one of the animators for Beavis and Butthead.

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

I’d paint anywhere. I just need time to paint! Now that I’m a dad, I get up most mornings at 4 – just so that I could have time to paint.

What inspires you these days?

For now, my son inspires me. Becoming a father was the ultimate change in life. I want to be a good man, and provide for him and his mom.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Hip-hop, 100%.

Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

I’d have to say “family.” I’ve always been inspired by my mom and the women in my life, and just painting a woman is a beautiful connection to women. I can paint any female face and it becomes familial to me.

Do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

When I work on walls, I let it flow. I just freestyle.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? And how do you know when it’s finished?

Never. I’m never satisfied with anything!

How important are others’ reactions to you?

It always feels good when you hear people say that they like your work.

How has your work evolved through the years?

It’s moving in the direction of fine art.

Have you any preferred colors?

Blue. Why? Picasso. And there’s more. I take pride in myself that I don’t use fancy paints. I don’t put tips on my cans. I just go to Home Depot or the hardware store and I buy the colors they have. And the color blue has so many variations.

What media do you currently most enjoy working with?

Most of my work is mixed media.

How has the work you’ve done on the streets impacted your studio work?

They’ve influenced each other. They’ve both evolved. Sometimes I feel more comfortable painting with a brush. But I want to do both. I want to make money from fine art and still paint on the streets.

 

How has your artwork evolved in the past several years? And how does your studio work differ from your street art?

I keep pushing it as an artist. My body of work is constantly evolving. When I work in my studio, I do it in smaller increments in multiple sessions. When I do a piece on the street, it usually takes me a day. And I haven’t yet broken into doing large-scale portraits in my studio with spray paint. I’ve done a few, and I’d like to do more. And sometimes things just happen. Like I stumbled upon creating patterns, and people really like them. I think they’re among my best work.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits:  1 & 2 Sara C Mozeson; 3 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 4, 6, 7  & 8   Rachel Alban

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